So the commencement ceremonies, the valedictorian speeches, the graduation parties are all gradually drawing to a close. Now starts the wait, waiting for that one phone call after all the job applications were feverishly filled out, waiting for the first day of college classes or waiting for something miraculously to enter the graduate's mind to realize what he or she should do in this life. Hurry up and wait for the next stage in this journey we call life: for the responsibilities of adulthood to gradually invade from the horizon.
All the while the chatter of the outside world continues, completely unphased from the hundreds of thousands of new able bodies for the workforce. And one of the dominant noises is the same one that has been going on since the beginning of humanity: blame, complaining, "it's always someone else's fault." Adam and Eve in the midst of this blame game after severely disappointing the God Who blessed them with the very precious gift of life itself. And we more than continue with that noise that dominates the human song. We blame the government for all that goes wrong in this world. We blame corporations for pushing out small businesses and affecting the job market for the recent graduates. We blame school boards for not preparing our students as well as other countries as our ranking remains far from the top in math and science. It is always someone else's fault for the state of affairs in this life.
And yet that cynical attitude and narrow-mindedness only plagues this young generation. It almost comes to the point where we wonder if the greatest miracle now is not so much the grace of God, that God is willing to offer forgiveness to the point of death on a cross. The miracle is people even willing to admit that they need grace; that they have done wrong in this life and need forgiveness. They need a Savior. They need the God Who not only offers hope beyond this earth, but the God Who instills hope now through baptism and Communion and a community of sisters and brothers in Christ, and a freedom from having to obsess over our eternal state to instead using our gifts and passions for the sake of the world.
That's the other part of the Adam and Eve story that we often overlook. God is not a puppet-master. God does not control our every movement, our every decision made. Not everything happens for a reason determined by God. The story will not allow us to forget the tremendous beauty and yet incredibly dangerous free will. And day after day, we witness first-hand how much free will can plague people of all ages, but it also has the potential to make the Good News of God come to life all the more.
And in these days graduates are beyond enchanted with this thrill of free will, of what all they can now do with their life. Will they use their gifts and passions just enough to get by to make themselves feel comfortable? Will they try to find the best job in order to make the most money possible and literally live life to the fullest extreme? But when things don't go their way, will they join in the dominant noise of blaming others: that it's their family, their potential bosses, or their school's fault?
The church's role is to inspire a completely different song: one of realizing that God has indeed blessed us with gifts, and we are not meant to use them for our own good, but for the benefit of others. Nevertheless, we will make mistakes along the way. We will manipulate our gifts. From time to time we will not discern correctly what God desires us to do for the sake of all God's children. And so we need grace. We need this God of forgiveness, of new life, to be sure. So, in the meantime, what does the world need from this graduating class? Yes, we will need doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. We will need engineers, technicians, factory workers, farmers, teachers, public servants as police and fire-fighters and the list goes on and on.
But perhaps what the world needs most from the class of 2015 is a swift kick of optimism. To help us realize that the blaming and the complaining, the nonsense chatter passed down from Adam and Eve is getting us absolutely no where. We will have to work together, not just across political ideology lines, but across nationalities, and social status, and education levels, and physical capability. We will have to join side-by-side with people we staunchly disagree with, to say the least. After all, God shaped humanity to live in community, as the story so went in Genesis. Adam was not meant to live alone, and so came Eve. But of course with more people comes more issues, more disagreements, more ideas, more hatred, more blaming, more of "it's someone else's fault."
So thanks be to God the story does not end with Adam and Eve, but it is only the beginning. And for the graduates of 2015, for Kyle, and the numerous others across this nation and beyond, their contribution to the story of this world is just beginning. Now mistakes will be made. We will use free will to our own advantage far too often. But that's why God joins us together in community, to come together in our own broken humanity, recognizing our need for grace, for forgiveness, for the God Who never gives up on us, Who never stops believing in us, Who loves us so much to the point of death. In the end, there is no more waiting. Jesus has already died. He is already risen from the dead. We have already been saved. There's no need to blame anyone anymore. We are set free from that sin and death forevermore! And for that grace, for the new life in the graduates of 2015, we give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon